Happy New Year, and a Lightbulb

Greetings, Gentle Readers, and Happy 2013!  Having finally pried the lampshade off my head, I'm fully recovered from my Holiday debaucheries and ready to continue my adventures in playing with string.

I decided to take the Frog by the flippers and revisit the actual fairy tale Frog Prince, hoping for further inspiration on my cardigan project. I dusted off my Grimm's Annotated, pleased to go back and see an old friend.  Interestingly, I had completely forgotten that in the traditional telling, the princess is totally disgusted by the frog, from beginning to end.  She only honors her promise to let him into the castle after her father makes her do it.  Not only does she NOT kiss the frog; he only changes into a prince after she smashes him against a wall.  I kinda like her style.

I'm taking this reminder as a sign that I need to take a firm hand with the sweater.  No more mollycoddling.  It's time to be the boss of this frog.

To that end, I knit new side panels.  They went really fast, being fairly narrow.  And as I was struggling to pin out my curling pieces of curved-edge stockinette, I experienced an epiphany:

It's easier to make them lie flat if you pin them to the board WRONG SIDE UP.

Yeah.  I know.  I'm appalled to realize that I've been making myself miserable trying to block flat pieces of curling stockinette right-side-up for my entire knitting career.  No idea why.  There is no reason whatsoever to keep them pretty-side-front, and every cause to do the opposite.  I can't believe I never thought of it before.  I hope you are smarter than me, and have been doing it the easy way all along.  But in case you are not, don't feel bad:  It's now a sure thing that we are going to end 2013 smarter than we started it. 

Just one more service I provide.


I used a lot of pins to block this.  There.  I said it.  The truth is that I don't even like pinning things:  I used to be mocked openly when I was a ballet seamstress for never using enough of them.  They are fiddly, hard to hold onto, and dang POINTY on one end.  But the trouble is, if you say to someone who has OCD "Here are a few lace holes that really could stand to be opened up, and by the way, here are 3000 pins", then what you will get is this:

And This:

Voodoo Doll Knitting.  The Forest of Pin-itude. Pin-a-palooza.  Pin-tastic.

And heaven knows, it's not that I have too much time on my hands (evidence to the contrary).  I was so bored with pins after the hour and a half it took me to poke one in every single stupid yarnover that I think I may have entered a fugue state.  But I couldn't stop and leave some lace holes nicely blocked open and some untouched.  That's like playing God with lace - who am I to decide which holes are block-worthy and which are not?  So in the end the only fair thing (and the only thing that would allow me to sleep last night) was to block open every single hole in the lace.  And every single picot on every single edge.  Phillip smirked at my pain and asked if I'd read any Clive Barker lately. 

I do like the way this is shaping up, skin perforations aside.  You may remember from a previous post that this is a new project for Spring/Summer.  I'm using the incomparable Blackwater Abbey 2-ply worsted in Old Purple this time.  Big Fun, in spite of what Phillip is now referring to as "Your Pin Problem".  How do porcupines make love?  Carefully.

Flying Saucer

That's what Phillip called it when he saw the Noro beret drying on a dinner plate.  He's not wrong:

It borders on unnatural, how much time I spend looking for weird household items for blocking.  I am the self-proclaimed Crown Princess of Making Weird Towel Shapes to Block Stuff With.  As a late-stage convert (I only began to understand the importance of blocking a couple of years ago), I have become a Blocking Zealot.  It's lame how long it took me to get a clue about blocking, having trained as a tailor.  Tailoring requires more than just a little steaming, thwacking, molding and otherwise sculpting of fabric, so you would think that knowledge would be more easily transferable to knitting.  But it wasn't until I had to study and write about it for the Master Knitter program that I really gathered brains.  Now I love to do it so much that no knitted item is safe, and no household implement, non-porus surface, or passing pet is sacred.  I'll block anything on anything.  My personal best was a combination of 6 washcloths and 2 balloons for a lace shrug with puffy sleeves.  Wish I'd had the presence to take a picture that time.

But back to the hat:  My kids are fighting over who gets it, which I take as a good sign.  I think it's okay as a first attempt, and I learned a lot about self-striping Noro.  There are things I will do differently next time, like chart a bigger, clearer motif.  I also would engineer a more interesting pattern for the crown.  I think I will also choose 2 really different colorways when I do this again, rather than two ends of the same skein.  I did myself no favors by going cheap on that one.  (Note To Self:  Since when are you scared to spend Money on Yarn?)  What I really enjoyed about this project was not having any idea what to expect as the colors changed on me.  I did not know what a control freak I am with regard to color.  I kept having to tell myself not to break the yarn and felt in a new color - MADE myself trust the progression of what was on the skein, just to see if I could stand it.  And I did!  I even was surprised by how much I liked some of the combinations that happened, notably yellow and burgundy.  These are two shades I almost never work with, and certainly not together.  But in context of the small space of a hat, I really liked the area where it happened.

Tomorrow I head for the garden spot that is Tacoma, Washington, for the Madrona Retreat therein.  I am so amped I can hardly keep it together.  My goal is to post on all four days, so stay tuned for reports on my adventures.  Reminders not to paint "Madrona Or Bust" on my car are probably needed.

In unrelated news, one of the projects has been cut from my book, and I am completely devastated.  I thought my skin was much thicker than that, but apparently not.  It's like loosing a toe.  I will live, but I think I will always miss it.  The good news is that the outcast project is going to be featured on my episode of Knitting Daily TV, whose theme, I'm told, will be "Fun With Color".  I think it will also be offered as a free pattern via the Knitting Daily Pattern Store, so it's future is by no means doomed.  Watch for it next November.  In the meantime I plan to Get Over It.  Knitting, after all, is not for weenies.  And wallowing in despair messes up your hair.