The Long and Short of It

Galata Skyline

Long time without writing, but at least at the moment, I have a good reason… I am in Istanbul! Lovely city, but cold and getting colder. I wish the scarf I am knitting was done so I could wear it.

I was hoping to find yarn, yarn shops, even wool sweaters here, but no luck. In the Grand Bazaar I don’t see sweaters, and in markets frequented by the locals, most things are acrylic. They are missing the boat– I’ve heard numerous tourists wishing for a pair of gloves, not yet another carpet shop.

Before I tell about the scarf, I need to give a bit of background. On the way to KL last weekend I had decided that I didn’t like how the scarf was knitting up. I know that one of the traits of stockinette stitch is that it curls, but this is ridiculous; it look like I’m knitting a sleeve in the round, not a flat scarf. And so, since I didn’t love the bottom edge being garter stitch either, I decided to try a a few things before I ripped it out.

I wondered if throwing in a purl every 7 or so stitches would help to flatten it out. That just looked strange. Next I tried adding the purl every five stitches or so, but neither was solving the curl problem and it still looks strange. I decided maybe I needed smaller needles. Being part mohair, this yarn has no bounce to it. On the #8 needles it feels too stretched out.

Yesterday we took the boat ride up the Bosphorous River. It takes three hours so I did some knitting. I made the switch to smaller needles and so far I like it better. I need to knit a bit more before I actually rip out and start the scarf over. It seems like on the smaller needles it is curling a bit less, but I need to make it longer to be sure. I know I won’t eliminate all curl, but the other would have been unwearable. I don’t think blocking would have saved it.

I wish I had a pair of #6 but all I have was #5 so that is what I am trying. I am wondering if doing most of the scarf in stockinette with two rows of garter thrown in at regular intervals would do it. I tried garter stitching this yarn but it doesn’t show off the lovely hand painted colors, so I won’t do that. Besides I need practice with stockinette before I start my tunic.

I hope I am far enough along on this to frog it here so I can actually knit on the plane.

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The God of Good Fortune

I love our walk to school in the mornings. Since we are almost alwaysGod_of_Gd_Fortune.jpg late, we are in a big hurry so the walk takes us about 7 minutes. That’s half what it took us when we first arrived, so we must be in better shape.

The walk takes us past house and link houses. One large house always decorates for the Chinese holidays. This year for Chinese New Year, they had this giant God of Good Fortune. It appears to be made out of fiber glass. If it were back in Minnesota, it would undoubtably be inflatable.

Tension- too much, too little

I spent hours last night on a new project. Emy had told me that wool is not a great choice for new knitters because its bounce compensates for tension problems. My first tunic will be in cotton, which has no memory and has no bounce. That means uneven tension will be obvious. It also means that this garment may droop a bit, which has me worried.

However, that’s a future worry because I’m not yet ready to start it. I had been knitting a wool scarf for Tam for her move to Belgium. I’ve set that aside because it is in garter stitch and I need to work on my purl. It is also in wool.

I think Emy was hoping I’d just practice on my project yarn and then rip it out when I start the project. However, I am far too practical for that. I have zero interest in knitting something that is neither pretty nor useful. Therefore, I dug into my stash and pulled out my gorgeous skein of hand painted Mountain Colors yarn. It is 55% Mohair and 45% wool. The color is Meadow, a lovely collection of blues and purples.mountain_colors_meadow.jpg

I spent hours last night casting on, knitting up and then ripping out. First my cast on was too tight and I’m trying to get it looser. Then, when that was correct, I decided to knit two rows, purl two row a couple times for the scarf end. Didn’t like how that looked, so I frogged it.

I started again using garter stitch instead. I liked it and was already up to the main part where I’m garter stitching just the first and last two stitches and then doing stockinette for the main section. The yarn colors are beautiful, but my kniting was not.

Instead of knitting the garter stitch, I am purling it all for the practice, and my tension was pathetic. I had been worried that being 45% wool, this yarn would hide my tension problems. No worries there! Darn thing looks like it is part lace with gaping holes scattered here and there. And it is too narrow. So, tonight, I rip it out again.

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Ripping it out again doesn’t really bother me. I think that is a bit weird. I don’t like knitting something for pure practice, but I don’t mind ripping this out repeatedly until I get it right– or at least closer to right.

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Batu couldn’t figure out why I was photographing yarn and knitting. Poor Kapas was locked in the bathroom– she’s sick again.

Getting Started – My First Lesson

Last weekend I had my first knitting lesson. Never mind that I learned to knit years ago and didn’t have problems. I started knitting again this fall and I seem to have relearned wrong. Seems I’m knitting in a strange way and that is making my tension really, really, REALLY tight. So tight that something knit on size 11 (US) needles looks like it was knit on size 5 needles- and it almost feels felted. (See, I TOLD you it was tight.)

And so patient Emy is helping me unlearn my old ways. She is amazingly good at seeing what I am doing and coming up with ways to fix it. In the course of last Sunday afternoon I knitted and purled in all sorts of ways. We finally fixed my knit, which was relatively easy. I just need a bit more practice to get a bit closer to gauge. However, my purl was a mess. I guess I knit was is called continental. To help me loosen up, Emy switched me to purling in the English way. I was a good sport and worked dutifully but I hate throwing the yarn. It feels really tedious.

In the end, I was able to loosen up enough that I could work with a modified continental purl. However, I need to practice it a bunch because if I stop concentrating, a stitch or two of the old way sneaks in and that affects which way the stitches face.

I don’t want to start the tunic I picked out until I get this worked out. Wish me luck.

Up to this point – a brief knitting history.

I had my first real lesson with Emy yesterday. I am excited about relearning to knit. I learned back in college from my boyfriend Michael. I was never prolific but I had fun. Then I put it down and didn’t do much with it for fifteen years.

Last year I picked it up when a friend’s cousin needed some love and support. I felt compelled to make her a scarf. I bought some gorgeous hand-painted wool yarn and began knitting on the way up to Wolf Ridge Environmental Education Center. My students were fascinated and it gave me a great time filler while supervising phone calls and other activities. Except for accidentally decreasing and not realizing it for four inches, it went fine, looked good and was enjoyable to make.

Then I suddently moved to Singapore (at least it felt sudden) and couldn’t really think about knitting until I ventured home at Christmas time. I loaded up on yarn and began knitting what must be THE most tightly knit scarf on the planet.